When to send your e-mail campaign... the age-old question.

“What’s the Best Day to Deploy Email?” If I’ve been asked this question once, I’ve been asked it 1,000 times! I can’t fault the question as it generally flows from clients with little e-mail experience and they worry that their maiden voyage may be doomed before even pushing off the dock.  Google search this question and you will find a myriad of answers ranging from Tues-Thurs deployments so that recipients are free from the weekend messages on Mondays and not yet daydreaming about the weekend on Fridays.  The counter argument suggests TO deploy on Mon/Fri as there is less competition in the in-box.  Some say avoid the weekends at all costs; others say TO deploy on weekends as parents, for example, have a ton of downtime while viewing Junior’s Little League game or Mary’s dance recital. (Can’t say I disagree with this last point of view … as a Little League baseball coach myself, I find it fascinating the number of parents buried in their smartphones vs. enjoying the weather, watching their kids’ play, and actually interacting with other human beings … but maybe that’s just me!)

My answer: “Let your customers/prospects tell you”.  The marketing industry has a nasty habit of trying to force round pegs into square holes, dictating their messages when WE are good and ready to deliver them.  This backwards thinking has led to many anti-marketing sentiments stemming from commercial TV interruptions of our favorite programming to the infamous telemarketing calls while we sit to enjoy dinner. About the only tactic that delivers specifically when the consumer is actually looking is organic search; and, not coincidentally, it is one of the top achieving ROI tactics available.

With all of the gains that e-mail has enjoyed over the last decade, we still slip back to the practice of deciding to hit ‘send’ with little more than a hope and a prayer that timing is optimal. Testing can certainly secure some general direction as to the best ‘send’ time, but just because one day outperformed another during testing, do we really think that’s the sole foundation on which to set our ongoing e-mail deployment strategy?

So how do we get off the hamster wheel and make meaningful decisions with respect to deployment day/time strategy?

The answer is right in front of our collective faces: We have reams and reams of data from previous deployments; in our “big data” world, we rarely use the intelligence that could be gleaned from this rich history. Whether a day-to-day or hour-to-hour analysis, identifying the times or days that every individual tends to act upon their e-mails via clicks, or minimally, opens should tell us when they want to deal with their email.  Simple as that.

For niche marketers who are micro-targeting a few hundred or few thousand emails per deployment, this may not be a viable strategy. But for big brands with a voluminous audience, the only reason I can surmise why this isn’t a key strategy is simply due to “in-the-box” thinking:  We treat our customers/prospects as one homogenous group.  In a world of increasing personalization, it’s the lone vestige where we operate in a manner simply because it’s “the way we’ve always done it”.

Start segmenting your e-mail customer and prospect universes by preferred time of receipt via their past behavior, and I’ll have more parents watching their kids play Little League. Isn’t that reason enough?